Building a friendlier downtown: Weighing in on the URA |

Building a friendlier downtown: Weighing in on the URA

A sketch shows an improved streetscape in front of the Tread of Pioneers Museum. The Steamboat Springs City Council gave initial approval to a list of downtown projects worth $10.3 million.

— In recent months, several community members have spoken both in favor and opposition to the proposal to use tax increment financing to fund downtown improvements. Support has come from the Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Board of directors, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and other downtown stakeholders. The most vocal opposition has come from representatives of other taxing entities who believe the use of a TIF would take away tax revenue they would get regardless of whether or not the city made improvements downtown. Here’s a sampling of public comment the city has received:

The longtime realtor and developer told the council the improvements are long overdue. He urged the council to invest in the “doorstep of the community,” and that Steamboat was falling behind other mountain communities.

— Jim Cook

Orzach didn’t feel all of the proposed improvements were needed in downtown, and he said he didn’t feel there were any pressing safety issues that needed to be solved. He also took issue with the assessment that downtown is “blighted, “ and urged the council not to spend a large amount of money to make Steamboat a “cookie cutter town.”

— Stuart Orzach

The local realtor pointed to the success of the base area URA as a reason for moving ahead with a URA downtown. He said the improvements would make navigating downtown easier, and they would benefit visitors, locals and location-neutral businesses.

— Jon Wade

Speaking on behalf of Bike Town USA, Goodman expressed support for the URA and said there are conflicts between bikers, pedestrians and cars downtown that could be addressed by infrastructure improvements.

— Tyler Goodman

The Steamboat Springs School Board president urged the council to look at another funding source, saying the use of a TIF would negatively impact the school district by making it more reliant on state funding. He also said he felt the current planning for the URA was being driven more by city staff than the community.

His view is shared by city council member Scott Ford but rejected by other council members who say the plans to revitalize downtown have been requested and supported by the community now for decades.

— Roger Good

The CEO of the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. urged the council to use a URA in the downtown corridor. He said a URA could enhance the tourist experience by improving downtown.

— Chris Diamond

The school board member continues to criticize the council for not meeting directly with the school board to discuss the potential impacts of a downtown URA. He said the mountain URA has harmed the school district, and he wants the city to use only sales tax revenue in the TIF, not property tax collected by the schools.

— Scott Bideau

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